Wage support increased for second and third year apprentices

Almost half of those who start an apprenticeship in Australia don’t complete it and now additional wage support has been provided to help second and third year apprentices complete their training and maintain a solid skills pipeline.

Federal Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business, Stuart Robert, has announced that the $3.9 billion Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements program has been extended with a $716 million Completing Apprenticeship Commencements program.

The changes take effect from October 2021 and mean eligible employers will receive a 10 per cent wage subsidy in the second year of an eligible apprenticeship, and five per cent in the third year.

“While other countries shed their apprentice workforces, our highly successful Boosting Apprenticeship Commencement program saw new apprenticeships increase 141.5 per cent year on year,” Minister Robert said. 

“The Morrison Government is now protecting the pipeline of apprentices today so they become the skilled workforce of tomorrow through the Completing Apprenticeship Commencements program, giving employers the confidence to retain an apprentice in their second and third years of training right through to completion.”

A welcome move

Employers association, Ai Group, has welcomed the move.

Ai Group CEO Innes Willox said the extra wage support will help improve retention rates and grow the number of tradespeople in skill shortage areas.

“Apprenticeship completion rates have been in a black hole for a number of years and the additional incentives will help employers to retain their apprentices through to completion,” Willox said.

“The support will be particularly important for employers facing COVID financial pressures who had been weighing up whether they could afford to retain their apprentices.

“Almost half of those that commence an apprenticeship don’t complete it, with most cancellations happening in the first 12 months.  A wage subsidy that encourages employers to continue apprenticeships into the second and third years will help stem the apprentice exit flow and is welcomed by industry.”

Ai Group says the additional subsidy will be available to those employers who were eligible for the original Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements Program. That program continues until March 2022 and provides a 50 per cent wage subsidy over 12 months for newly commencing apprentices (capped at $7000 per quarter).

For further information on how to apply for the program, including information on eligibility, visit www.dese.gov.au/boosting-apprenticeship-commencements or contact an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider.

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